Sunday, April 20, 2008

Onuaku Shoots for a Few Records

Arinze Onuaku was the most surprising player for Syracuse in the 2007-2008 season. Jonny Flynn and Donte Greene came with high pedigrees, Paul Harris was a known quantity, and Kris Ongenaet was a solid role player. Onuaku was expected to provide a big body down low for solid defense and rebounding. He did both of those things, and also brought an added dimension of outstanding scoring ability.

Onuaku showed himself to be very light on his feet for a man listed at a very solid 260 pounds. He showed a soft shooting touch near the hoop, and made 62.8% of his field goals on the season for the Orange, making 186 of 296 attempts. This ranks him as the 4th best in Syracuse history for players with 100 or more attempts.

The top five now are:

Roosevelt Bouie 65.4% in 1979-1980 (189 field goals in 289 attempts)
Stephen Thompson 63.9% in 1988-1989 (297 field goals in 465 attempts)
Roosevelt Bouie 63.1% in 1978-1979 (176 field goals in 279 attempts)
Arinze Onuaku 62.8% in 2007-2008 (186 field goals in 296 attempts)
Etan Thomas 61.7% in 1998-1999 (148 field goals in 240 attempts)

That is a couple of nice centers to be in company with (Bouie and Thomas), and Stephen Thompson was one of the most dynamic scoring players in Syracuse history. Illustrious company. Onuaku had a chance to be #2 on the list shooting at 64.1% entering the last game of the season (177 field goals out of 276 attempts). Unfortunately a very poor night of missed easy shots against Massachusetts left Onuaku going 9-20 that night, dropping his percentage to 62.8%. Onuaku has a couple more seasons to go for the record, and he may well do it.

The career field goal percentage for players with 200 or more attempts is by Jeremy McNeil. McNeil did not shoot very often (only 251 attempts in his career) and was not a good shooter, but he knew how to dunk the ball when given the chance. McNeil made 68.5% of his career field goal attempts. Onuaku is currently second on that list with a career mark of 62.0%. Third on the list is Etan Thomas at 60% (495 field goals in 895 attempts), followed by Bill Smith at 59.6% and Bouie at 59.3%.

Unfortunately, Onuaku is also attempting to enter another well known and illustrious group at Syracuse, the worst free throw shooting list. He made a strong bid this year to break Terrence Roberts 2005-2006 record for worst single season free throw shooting. Roberts shot 42.1% that year (56 of 133). Onuaku had his chances but finished the year at 44.5% (73-164). Four more misses would have tied him with Roberts. Let us hope Onuaku never has another chance at that record.

Onuaku does however officially hold the worst career free throw shooting (minimum 200 attempts), taking that distinction from Terrence Roberts who set the mark just last year at 48% (176-367). Onuaku has currently made 85 free throws out of 191 attempts in his career for a 44.5% career effort. Onuaku does not have the minimum 200 attempts, but even if you assume he shot nine for nine to get him to 200 attempts (making him 94 for 200), he would have a lower percentage than Roberts.

Onuaku, welcome to that elite club along side Terrence Roberts, Stephen Thompson, Herman Harried, and Derek Brower. As previously mentioned, you have two more years to improve that shot, so let us hope you are just visiting the club, and not accepting a lifetime membership.

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